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NZ Scientists to Gather Data for Disaster Plan

NZ Scientists to Gather Information for Disaster Preparedness in the Pacific


Geologists from GNS Science will spend the next six months collecting information on buildings and infrastructure in Pacific Island countries to measure vulnerability and risk from earthquakes and cyclones in the southwest Pacific.

The project is part of a joint initiative involving the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank Regional Partnership for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Preparedness.

Scientists from GNS Science will work closely with Pacific regional organisations and government officials in the collection of the information.

The Asian Development Bank has contracted GNS Science to carry out the work over the next two years in association with the Pacific Disaster Center and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), based in Fiji.

The work will be carried out in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The data collection will start in the Cook Islands on 11 February 2010 and finish in Tonga in September 2010. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in September 2011.

Project leader, Phil Glassey of GNS Science, said they will be collecting existing building, road, pipeline, and utility network data held by the countries. Where this is lacking, they will collect it by field survey, concentrating on the major urban areas.

“The field data collection will involve staff from each of the country governments using hand-held computers with integrated camera and GPS,” Mr Glassey said.

“The location of many of the assets will be captured using satellite imagery, prior to data collection in the field.”

Mr Glassey said data would be collected in a form that could be used in any Geographic Information System (GIS) to ensure it had maximum utility for the project and for the countries involved.

“Data for each country will be retained by the country with a regional database held and maintained by SOPAC. The data will help local and regional decision-making processes and support greater resilience to the impacts
of natural disasters and climate change.

“The data will also be a critical input into the assessment of a regional catastrophe fund - a related World Bank project.”

The project stems from a similar undertaking in New Zealand called Regional RiskScape, which is a joint vebture involving GNS Science and NIWA. Regional RiskScape is a computer analysis tool that converts natural hazard exposure
information for a region into damage and replacement costs, casualties, economic losses, and number of people affected.

ENDS

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